I have sat too many times in a church I love very much and not understood how to function in that place. I have not understood who I am supposed to go to and who I am supposed to listen to. I am told that I probably can’t lead because I am too in need of healing but there is no one to help me understand how to be healed. I struggle with some serious issues, with trying to make some major decisions in my life, and no one really can tell me who I can talk to. Everyone just says, well, hang on, it will happen in time.
This is not and cannot be about me. I know that. We are created to be an apostolic people, an outward-focused people with a message, a people who really know it’s all about him and all about them, because God will take care of us. I want to go against the tide of this consumer society that says it should feed me and it should cater to me and it should work for me. I want to choose actively to commit to a body of people, knowing their sin and their brokenness but also knowing who has and will make them victorious. Church is not about how pure or radical we think we are – it is about how faithfully we serve even when we see how broken the others around us are, even when we see the places they are not yet healed and not yet qualified.
How do we become a people who believe in what may be unseen but is way more real? We can only persevere because we see that which is invisible. She who has eyes – let her see.
The heart of God is that heart that says, you have been unfaithful but I have dressed you in linen garments white as snow. The heart of God says you have prostituted yourself and chased after other lovers, you have compromised your heart and ignored me, and still I love you and still I wait for you. The heart of God says, I am father to all of your illegitimate children, no matter where they came from. The heart of God is the one who weeps for Absalom because it says it matters not what he was trying to do – he is my son. The heart of God says it is finished, as far as east is from the west, never to be seen again. The heart of God is always fully present and fully invested.
How is it supposed to work? All the time I am told, he has hurt you, you have to protect yourself. Be careful who you trust, Ali, or you will be sorry. Well, you know, she has chosen that life. Well, you know, he is too immature to make the right decision. It’s okay, you know, you deserve a little refuge in your home, give yourself a break.
I don’t want to give myself a break.
God is one who doesn’t wait for us to ask before he reaches out for us. He doesn’t say, hey, well, you didn’t get it the first time, so too bad; he says, hey, you missed my heart? Let me show it to you again. I don’t want to do this, God, if this is as good as it gets. I don’t want to do this if it is always dependent on getting the right results or seeing the answers or convincing them to follow you, because they won’t. I know you, and I know that you are with me. I know you are working me out in this to your glory.
I want to do this because I want my soul to be so transformed that I have that inner well that always says yes, even when the world says no. I want to do this because I cannot keep silent and I am so overwhelmed by knowing Jesus that I can’t even be distracted by the other competing affections of life. I want to do this because I can choose to commit because I know that the one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world, and of a wholly different substance. I want to do this because I want to jump and live fearlessly and differently in a place which will see me for who and what I really am – see you for who and what you really are. I want to do this because I can see how God sees, see the broken and rejected ones and speak to them. Church is just the product of the multiplied life of God.
Father, help us to live out of who we are and not out of what we do.
I don’t want to be a whiner and just complain that it doesn’t work for me, and I don’t want to turn my back and just decide that it doesn’t matter and I can walk away. I can’t. My heart has been captured by this burning and shining one, and I am captivated. His people will be my people. I want to be victorious because I have been touched, because I have been changed, because I can be so deeply affected by the one who has loved me that I cannot help but love. Mercy, Lord, on me, and on your church. What you have given your life for let me not ever be willing to turn my back on.